Pennsylvania

Stepping Up The Pressure: PFAW Press Conference With Joe Sestak in PA

Over the past few weeks, People For the American Way has been busy in Pennsylvania, at the front lines of the fight to stop a Republican attempt to rig the electoral college. We’ve delivered over 100,000 petitions to Governor Tom Corbett; hosted a press conference with African American ministers against the scheme; and organized canvassing trips in key state senate districts.  

Now, we’re stepping up the pressure again. Today in Media, Pennsylvania, People For the American Way hosted a press conference with former congressman Joe Sestak to demand answers from the scheme’s sponsor, state Sen. Dominic Pileggi. Admiral Sestak denounced the scheme, and called on Senator Pileggi to end his campaign to rig the election. We also heard from the Delaware County Democratic Party Chairman David Landau, who called on the Republican co-sponsors like state Sen. Edwin Erickson to remove their names from this bill. Finally, we heard from our own Robert Weaver, who talked about the “enormous dissent” we’ve been hearing about from these state senators’ constituents.

Again and again, we’ve heard Senator Pileggi and the Republicans try to avoid criticism of this bill simply by saying that the bill isn’t moving right now. That isn’t good enough. We know, and Joe Sestak knows, and even Dominic Pileggi knows the reality: a bad bill that’s not moving is still a bad bill, and it can start moving anytime. Senator Pileggi and his co-sponsors need to stop trying to hide from the debate and either stand up for this bill or remove it from consideration, instead of just waiting until they think Pennsylvania voters aren't looking. As Rob said today, we will not stop until we know that Pennsylvanians’ electoral votes are safe.

PFAW

Anti-Choice Group Using Gosnell Trial to Push TRAP Laws

The anti-choice group Americans United for Life is using the trial of Philadelphia abortion provider Kermit Gosnell – accused of infanticide and causing the injury and death of several women in his care – to push for “TRAP” laws meant to shut down safe abortion clinics.

TRAP – “targeted restrictions on abortion providers”—laws are a favorite tool of anti-choice activists trying to work their way around Roe v. Wade. Passed under the guise of improving care for women, they are in fact aimed at shutting down abortions providers by burdening them with onerous and unnecessary regulations. A TRAP law in Virginia forced a respected 40-year-old abortion clinic to close this month. Last year, Mississippi passed a TRAP law aimed at shutting down the state’s only abortion clinic.

And this is exactly what Americans United for Life wants more of. In a press release today, AUL president Charmaine Yoest presents two model state-level TRAP measures, falsely claiming that her group “has led the nationwide effort to combat the reality of legalized ‘back-alley’ abortions”:

"For more than a decade, Americans United for Life has led the nationwide effort to combat the reality of legalized 'back-alley' abortions, advocating for meaningful and comprehensive regulation and oversight of abortion clinics.  And legislators across the country are responding to AUL's call to protect women from substandard abortion clinics and providers.  Over just the last three years, eight states have enacted new comprehensive abortion clinic regulations or made significant improvements to existing regulations.

"Commonsense regulations must be a national priority. Enacting medically appropriate and comprehensive abortion clinic regulations is a critical and sensible solution to the on-going problem of unsafe, legal 'back-alley' abortions, which is now better understood as a result of the horrific revelations in the Gosnell trial.  These regulations are designed to safeguard against unsanitary conditions, inferior equipment, and the employment of unsuitable and untrained personnel.  They are also intended to put an end to substandard medical practices that injure and kill untold numbers of women each year."

Of course, these laws do nothing to prevent back-alley abortions or “safeguard” women’s health. Instead, they serve to force safe clinics out of business, forcing women into unsafe practices like Gosnell’s. Gosnell’s squalid and dangerous clinic was the last refuge for many low-income women in Philadelphia. Yet AUL and its allies are trying to exploit the Gosnell story to make it even harder for women to access safe abortion care.

PFAW Delivers Over 100K Petitions to Corbett Urging Him to Reject Electoral Vote-Rigging Scheme

HARRISBURG -- Today, People For the American Way and allies in Pennsylvania delivered over 125,000 petitions calling on Gov. Tom Corbett to reject a Republican scheme to rig the way Pennsylvania apportions its electoral votes. 108,000 of the petitions were from People For the American Way members and supporters. The plan, introduced by Sen. Dominic Pileggi, would split Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, thus diminishing its influence in presidential elections.

People For the American Way volunteers have knocked on over 3,000 doors in key Senate districts in the past three weeks, educating voters about the Republican plan. In addition, Pennsylvania members of PFAW’s African American Ministers in Action denounced the scheme at an event in Philadelphia yesterday.

“People in Pennsylvania and across the country are speaking out against this plan,” said Randy Borntrager, Political Director of People For the American Way. “Voters know when politicians are trying to pull a fast one on them, and Sen. Pileggi and his allies are not going to get away with it. Gov. Corbett should listen to his fellow Pennsylvanians and reject this scheme to diminish the influence of Pennsylvania voters.”

People For the American Way is dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American: Equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American way. www.pfaw.org.
 

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African American Ministers In Action Urges Pennsylvania Republicans to Drop Electoral Vote Rigging Plan

PHILADELPHIA – Pennsylvania civil rights and faith leaders held a press conference today to urge Pennsylvania Republicans to drop their plan to change the way the state apportions its electoral votes.  Rev. Dr. Robert P. Shine, pastor of Berachah Baptist Church in Philadelphia and co-chair of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers In Action, made the following statement:

“Last year, African Americans in Pennsylvania stood up to suppressive voting laws and turned out to vote in great numbers. Now, Republican legislators are trying to diminish the power of our votes and our voices by watering down Pennsylvania’s electoral influence. This plan is unfair and it’s short-sighted. Instead of trying to rig the rules of the game to benefit their candidates, the Republicans should be working to win votes with their policies and values.”

People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action represents a network of 1,500 African-American clergy working toward equality, justice and opportunity for all.
 

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Keeping the Pressure On: PFAW Canvassing in Pennsylvania

This weekend, our Pennsylvania volunteers had their best canvassing trip yet- and not just because of the beautiful weather. 20 volunteers met in State Senator Lloyd Smucker’s district, spending their Saturday afternoon talking to 700 Pennsylvanians and collecting signatures for our petition to Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania. We weren’t surprised to hear the same things we hear every time we talk to Pennsylvania voters about the Republican electoral college plans: shock, confusion, and disappointment that Republican lawmakers like Senator Smucker are trying to make Pennsylvania less important to national elections.

Again and again, we’ve seen these Republican lawmakers avoid discussion of this bill by saying it isn’t a priority- but we know this is just another attempt to pull the wool over voters’ eyes. We know they’re trying to get these plans through quietly and without debate. And we know that Pennsylvanians won’t stand for it. We’re keeping the pressure on, and we need your help to do it. On April 10, we're delivering more than 100,000 signatures of PFAW supporters against the electoral college rigging at the Pennyslvania State Capitol Rotunda. If you haven't done so already, it's not too late to add your name to our petition to Republican lawmakers in PA and other states telling them to abandon this effort. Or donate to support our campaign here.

PFAW

People For the American Way Pennsylvania Members Campaign Against Election-Rigging Plan

Pennsylvania members of People For the American Way (PFAW) will canvass in the district of state Sen. Lloyd Smucker on Saturday, urging him to reject a plan to rig the way the state apportions its presidential electoral votes. Smucker, who represents Lancaster and York counties, is the chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, which will be the first to review a bill that would split the state’s electoral votes in order to benefit Republican presidential candidates.

This weekend’s canvass will be the latest in People For the American Way’s grassroots effort to defeat Pennsylvania Republicans’ election-rigging plan. Over the past two weekends, PFAW Pennsylvania volunteers knocked on more than 2,700 doors in the districts of state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, the sponsor of the election-rigging bill, and of bill co-sponsor Sen. Stewart Greenleaf.

A People For the American Way petition calling on legislators in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to drop such election-rigging plans has garnered over 100,000 signatures nationally.

“Pennsylvanians see this election-rigging plan for what it is: a cynical attempt to undermine Pennsylvania voters in the hopes of short-term partisan gain,” said Jodi Hirsh, Pennsylvania Coordinator for People For the American Way. “This plan would dilute the power of Pennsylvanians’ votes in presidential elections and it would deal a blow to the state’s economy. It’s simply a bad idea, and Pennsylvanians know that. We’re standing up to Sen. Pileggi, Sen. Smucker and their allies to tell them they can’t get away with rigging our elections.”

People For the American Way is dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American: Equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American way. www.pfaw.org.

Turning Up The Heat: PFAW Canvass in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Republicans’ strategy to rig the Electoral College rests on their pushing their plan through quietly, without voters realizing what they’re up to. They know they can’t win if people are paying attention, because rigging the game isn’t fair, it isn’t popular, and it isn’t right for Pennsylvania. We’re not going to let their deception defeat Pennsylvanians’ democratic rights. We’re turning up the heat on the State Senate Majority Leader, Dominic Pileggi, who introduced the bill to rig the Electoral College. Last weekend, we led 14 Pennsylvanians on a canvass in Pileggi’s district to show him that Pennsylvanians know what he’s up to, and that he can’t get away with these underhand tactics. 

Our volunteers knocked on over 1500 doors and talked to hundreds of voters- but we’re just getting started. More canvassing and phonebanking shifts are scheduled this week, and we’ll keep this up as long as state Republicans keep trying to rig the game. We’re showing Dominic Pileggi that Pennsylvanians know what he’s up to, they know what his plan would do to their state, and that they won’t stand for it. 

Sign our petition to GOP lawmakers in PA and other states telling them to abandon their efforts to rig the Electoral College>>

If you can, donate to our campaign here>>

PFAW

Gaming the System: How the Republicans are trying to cheat their way to the White House

Republicans have a new plan to win in 2016: rig the Electoral College.

Hearing for a Diverse Group of Judicial Nominees

The nominees at today's Judiciary Committee hearing exemplify Obama's commitment to increasing personal and professional diversity in the federal judiciary.
PFAW

African-American Clergy Urge Corbett to Denounce Vote-Rigging Plan

PHILADELPHIA – Pennsylvania members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council are urging Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett to reject a proposal to change the way the state apportions its electoral votes.

“This partisan power-grab, if successful, will further disenfranchise African Americans in Pennsylvania,” said Reverend Dr. Clarence Pemberton, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia. “Last year, a suppressive voter ID law threatened to keep thousands of African-American Pennsylvanians from the polls. Now, we’re facing another attempt to marginalize our voice in elections.  Parties and their candidates not able to win on their merits should work to appeal to voters, not to rig the system to discount our votes.”

The African American Ministers Leadership Council, a program of People For the American Way Foundation, is a network of African American clergy fighting for social justice across the United States.

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PFAW Calls on Republican Governors to Follow Virginia’s Lead, Denounce Election-Rigging

WASHINGTON – People For the American Way today called on the Republican governors of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio to reject plans to rig their states’ electoral vote apportionment. Today, a Virginia state Senate committee resoundingly  rejected a similar plan by a vote of 11-4.

A People For the American Way petition denouncing the election-rigging scheme has gathered over 80,000 signatures.

“The GOP should be trying to earn the respect of voters, not rigging the system against voters’ wishes,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “The Virginia Senate’s rejection of this plan should be a warning for those proposing it in other states. This is an extremist gambit, and it damages the credibility of those who support it. It is stunning that this scheme has gotten as far as it has. Governors Walker, Corbett and Kasich should take the lead in their states and stop this undemocratic plan before it goes any further.”
 

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GOP Electoral College Scheme Advances in Virginia

On Wednesday, Republican state senators in Virginia cleared the first hurdle in their push to fundamentally change how state Electoral College votes are allocated.
PFAW

PFAWF Releases Reports on Outside Election Spending in 21 States, Organizes ‘Money Out/Voters In’ Events Across the U.S.

Out of State Money Floods Contests in 2012

Washington, DC –  Today People For the American Way Foundation unveiled new state-by-state fact sheets detailing outside spending in U.S. Senate and House races in 21 states.  Each report analyzes the outside spending totals from Super PACs, dark money groups, and out-of-state spenders in the down ballot federal races from the 2012 election cycle.  The fact sheets reveal that, on average, a majority of outside election money in these states came from Super PACs.  And in every case, a vast majority came from organizations registered outside of the state.

The release of the “Outside Spending, Outsized Influence” reports coincide with the weekend marking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the third anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC  to draw attention to the dual threats of voter suppression and unlimited corporate and special interest money in politics. The reports – a partnership between PFAWF and U.S. PIRG – are part of the Money Out/Voters In campaign.  As part of that campaign, People For the American Way Foundation, its affiliate People For the American Way, and other organizers across the country are hosting “Day of Action” events in more than 76 cities in 33 states this weekend. Members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council will be leading Money Out/Voters In events in Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.

“Last year’s elections were far and away the most expensive in history,” said People For the American Way Foundation Executive Vice President Marge Baker.  “A major reason was the influx of outside, special interest spending in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision. When big money floods our elections, it dwarfs the ability of individual Americans to have their voices heard. Just as important, when politicians push laws to suppress the vote, we turn back the clock on decades on progress to expand and improve our democracy. We need to pursue the full range of remedies to address the problem of too much money in politics, including amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United, and we need to stand up against the growing threat of voter suppression.  This weekend we are joining with allies across the country to call for a democracy that gets Money Out and Voters In.”

The states featured in the reports are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

For links to each report, please visit: http://www.pfaw.org/issues/outside-spending-outsized-influence-big-and-s...

For more information about the Money Out/Voters In campaign or the Days of Action, please visit: http://www.moneyout-votersin.org

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GOP Electoral College Power Play Tests Our Democracy

The GOP proposal to game the Electoral College in key blue states represents a massive escalation in the GOP war against electoral democracy.
PFAW

PFAW Commends White House on PA Judicial Nominees, Urges Toomey to Press GOP Leadership for Swift Confirmations

Washington, DC – People For the American Way today commended President Obama for nominating three qualified Pennsylvanians to seats on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The three nominees, Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro, Luis Felipe Restrepo, and Jeffrey L. Schmehl, continue the gender and ethnic diversity that President Obama has brought to the federal courts. Two of the three are of Hispanic heritage, and one, Quiñones, would become the first openly gay Hispanic federal judge. Notably, the professional diversity of these nominees is also significant. Restrepo’s and Schmehl’s professional careers include time as public defenders and Quiñones’s background includes work with a community legal services program.

“These nominees are emblematic of the president’s commitment to nominating qualified, diverse nominees to the federal bench,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “They are also a sign of the president’s commitment to solving the vacancy crisis in our federal courts without delay. One week after his reelection, the president nominated seven Americans to fill district and circuit court vacancies. Today, he has taken an important step in tackling the longstanding vacancy crisis in Pennsylvania.”

Pennsylvania’s federal courts currently have eight vacancies. Two nominees for seats considered “judicial emergencies” have been waiting over four months for confirmation votes from the Senate, despite the stated support of their home-state senators.

“It took far too long for Quiñones, Restrepo and Schmehl to be nominated for long-vacant seats on Pennsylvania’s courts, through the process set up by Senators Casey and Toomey,” added Baker. “And there are still three vacancies on the Eastern District yet to be filled. It is critical that the senators act expeditiously to send recommendations to the White House for these three remaining seats so that Pennsylvanians have access to fully functioning federal courts. It is also taking far too long for the Senate to confirm the two pending Pennsylvania Middle District nominees, because of obstruction by Senate Republicans. Sen. Toomey must stand up to his Republican leadership and urge them to allow confirmation votes on the 19 nominees who have spent as long as eight months languishing on the Senate floor.”

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The Right to Vote Under Attack, 2012 Update

Here we detail, as of October 6, 2012, except where otherwise noted, the latest efforts across the country to suppress the vote, as well as some encouraging successes in expanding the franchise.

Write a Letter to the Editor.

You can play a big role in spreading the word about why a Mitt Romney presidency - and the prospect of Mitt Romney appointing Supreme Court justices -- would be dangerous for America.

How? By writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Letters to the editor are extremely effective because voters trust people in their own communities. And newspapers want to hear from you about what matters.

Be sure to give your name, address and a phone number with your letter. For those submitted via e-mail, the subject line should read “Letter to the Editor.” For letters submitted via regular mail, they should say “Attn: Editor.” Before a letter is printed, a member of the newspaper staff may give you a call.

Letters shouldn’t be much more than 200-300 words. Short and to-the-point letters are the most effective.
It is important that you use your own words when writing a letter to the editor. But, here are a few points you will probably want to make:

  • As voters go to the polls, they need to remember what's at stake in our courts.
  • A Mitt Romney presidency would be dangerous for America. Even worse, he would make Supreme Court appointments that would have a negative impact on Americans for generations.
  • Mitt Romney wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. He would appoint justices who would take women backwards. He even opposes requiring employers to cover birth control. A woman's right to control her own health decisions hangs in the balance with this election.
  • Mitt Romney believes that "corporations are people" and his extreme views would hurt the middle class and consumers for generations.
  • Feel free to incorporate "RomneyCourt.com" into your letter to steer readers to our Romney Court website so they can get more information. You could say something like "I read on RomneyCourt.com that..."

After you send your letter, please e-mail People For the American Way Pennsylvania Coordinator Jodi Hirsh at jhirsh@justactionllc.com and let us know you did. This will help us track our progress in getting our message out. And if you'd like, include the text of your letter and your name and hometown.

Below is a list of Pennsylvania newspapers and how to submit a letter. Election Day is approaching fast -- and people are already voting -- so please send in a letter to the editor today!

 

Voter ID Blocked in Pennsylvania

While it is now guaranteed that voters without an ID cannot legally be turned away, the ruling only applies for the 2012 election. Concerns over voter disenfranchisement continue to exist.
PFAW Foundation
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